The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states with pertinacious exactitude and society insists with mulish doggedness that, it is cardinally imperative for public office holders, professionals and officers at all levels to take an oath of office. This is to expurgate unpatriotic conduct and bowdlerize the corpulent underpinnings of corruption, insouciance, seditionary and insurrectionary proclivities against the people, the state and the ethics of their calling etc. The oath of office is also to ensure that there is integrity, honesty and transparency in leadership.
Within the context of this submission an ‘Oath of Office’ is a solemn promise that is legally binding, administered by an officer of law, an approved officer of the profession, club or group, the Head of States, Governors and or any approved and appointed officer of repute. An oath is a political, social, religious and economic humdinger. The man or woman who takes an oath of office or upon whom an oath of office is administered or devolved is statutorily obligated to carry out his functions or duties to the spirit of the letter of the oath of office.
In part IV under Supplemental, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides in section 290 subsection I on Judicial Officers that “A person appointed to any judicial office shall not begin to perform the functions of that office until he has declared his assets and liabilities as prescribed under the constitution and has subsequently taken and subscribed to the oath of allegiance and the judicial oath prescribed in the seventh schedule to this constitution.”
The judicial oath reads in part “I will discharge my duties and perform my functions honestly to the best of my ability and faithfully in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, that I will abide by the code of conduct contained in the fifth schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions, that I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The Constitution also provides for an oath of Allegiance and oath of office for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Vice President, the Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Special advisers, the State Houses of Assembly, the National Assembly etc. At club and party levels etc. they also have their Constitution/s that provides for them to take an oath of office. But a cursory look at Nigeria’s political, social and economic horizon shows that every spirit of the letter in the oath of office has been breached or been breached by our leaders.
The banal vapidity and perfunctory apathy with which Judicial Cowboys, Legislative Pettifoggers, Party Chieftains, Political buccaneers, the Executive, some Ministers, Governors and Political Desperados and Social Rascals have been conducting the affairs of the Nation, State, Ministries and Parties, smacks of asininity in action, lese majesty and the glamourization of philistine and imbecilic fancies. It’s a profound shame that our leaders took the oath of office without declaring their assets and after taking the oath of office they have continued to act against every letter of the oath and the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria by being crassly corrupt etc.
The Medical Profession is in a state of jejune insipidity as some medical doctors in public and private practice demand sex from married women and single girls before medical attention. In most cases, their bills are terribly astronomical and inhuman. They cross their hearts and allow impecunious patients to die-helplessly. Their quest for money has made abortion their most popular crime in the profession today. But abortion and their inhumanity violates the oath which doctors take- the Hippocratic Oath and the Declaration of Geneva which states “I will have utmost respect for human life right from the moment of conception.” All other professionals are not left out, especially the legal profession.
Nigerians, especially public officers have made the oath of office a frivolous undertaking as most of them commit crimes and barefaced corruption against the state without qualms of conscience. This is outright perjury, but the law lacks the bite to prosecute them. They take oath of office in the name of God, witnesses in Courts lie profusely haven taken or sworn to an oath with the Bible or Koran. It shows Nigerians do not fear God Almighty or that they are taking his compassionate nature for granted.
In the light of this, what is the way forward to re-entrenching probity in our leadership and national life? I beg to suggest that public office holder’s etc. who are not likely to be Bible or Koran compliant, through investigation, should be made to swear or take oath of office by Ogun, Olokun and other local deities. Experience has shown that a vest majority of Nigerians are only sunken in splendiferous theatricalization of religious doctrines. They only pray for money by any means and once they find themselves up there in public office etc. they see it as a God/Allah sent opportunity to milk Nigeria dry.
We must therefore revert to the so called ancestral and antediluvian system of swearing or taking oath by reference to the gods of Africa. Our people are hiding under colonial gods to refrigerate the vibrancy of our national development and growth as a nation. As Allen G. White posited, “The greatest need of the world today is the want of men-men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose consciences are as true to duty as the needle to the pole. Men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men who in their inner souls are true and honest, men who stand for truth though the heavens fall.” We do not have such men in Nigeria.
We can also begin to have them by systematic mental reorientation, values re-acculturation and the lionization of a virile mindset that leads to the mountainous heights of transparency and integrity in service. Nigerians do not uphold the intrinsic beauty and virtues of integrity in service and no nation can move forward when the leaders and the citizenry at large are entangled in the oubliette of self-destruct and the histrionics of skullduggery. We must make the ritual of oath of office a serious business; otherwise Nigeria will be cascading down the epicenter of a precarious precipice. Hence, the orator and philosopher CICERO said that “An oath sworn with the clear understanding in one’s mind that it should be performed must be kept.” This is what makes a true and conscientious leader.
Chief Gbinije is of Mandate Against Poverty, MAP, Warri